Independent analysis of WorkSafe Victoria Reply

Cover of State of OHS in Victoria 2015Barry Naismith‘s third report into the operations and performance of WorkSafe Victoria was released on July 22, 2014. Naismith produces these reports through a combination of publicly available information in the press, a dive into the resources of the WorkSafe Library (visit before it moves to Geelong) and requests to WorkSafe.  This level of analysis and interpretation is rarely available outside of formal academic research and Naismith provides the all-important social and political context from which much academic occupational health and safety (OHS) research shies.

His latest paper focuses on 2015. More…

Worker democracy reappears and OHS needs to be ready 4

Tripartite consultation of occupational health and safety (OHS) is largely a relic of the past. It remains in the structure of government policy formulation and in workplace safety legislation but, largely due to the decline in trade union presence in Australian workplaces; OHS consultation occurs more linearly than through formalised tripartism.

A recent example of contemporary consultation, that is likely to include OHS, was reported on in The Guardian newspaper on 17 July 2016. The incoming UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, wants to encourage the inclusion of a worker on company boards.  It is a curious suggestion from a Conservative Prime Minister which has been leapt on as “workplace democracy” by some commentators. The workplace democracy or “industrial democracy” push is not a new idea and was once seriously proposed in 1977 but, according to an article in The Conversation, the political time was not right.  Whether that time is now is debatable. More…

“We are the safest” – No, only half right 7

Governments around the world love to be able to claim their State or Country as the safest in the world, when they can.  Australia has been plagued by such claims between various States but a report released on July 6 2016 shows that such claims are only half the story.

The Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) released its report about “Work-related injury and illness in Australia, 2004 to 2014“. The report makes this extraordinary finding:

“Across Australia, there are twice as many estimated work-related injuries as there are accepted workers compensation claims. This indicates that many injuries do not progress into the nations workers compensation systems” (page 2)

This statement seems to indicate that political statements made on the basis of workers’ compensation data, the major rationale for most of the “we are the safest” statements, are only half right! More…

Selective duty of care being applied by the Australian Government 5

Australia’s work health and safety (WHS) laws confirmed the modern approach to workplace safety legislation and compliance where workers and businesses are responsible for their own safety and the safety of others who may be affected by the work.  The obligations to others existed before the latest WHS law reforms but it was not widely enforced.  The Grocon wall collapse in Victoria and the redefinition of workplace in many Australian jurisdictions through the OHS harmonisation program gave the obligation more prominence but has also caused very uncomfortable challenges for the Australian government – challenges that affect how occupational health and safety is applied in Australian jurisdictions. More…

When culture has an agenda 2

The topic of culture is a critical consideration in the improvement of occupational health and safety (OHS). Each company should be aiming for a an active and healthy workplace and safety culture but the term “culture” continues to be difficult to define and poorly understood by the community.

SafetyAtWorkBlog has written about the culture discussion as it relates to Australia’s finance and banking sectors but one of the areas of most active culture discussions is industrial relations which has a much closer relationship with workplace safety.  A recent opinion piece by three major employer associations illustrates another problem with the debate. More…